The institute was established in 1998 as the Graduate Institute of International Studies, with a variety of outreach programs, student and faculty conferences, and a specialized library around the masters program in international studies created in 1994. It was renamed in 2002 in honor of its founder, Professor Ibrahim Abu-Lughod (1929-2001). The IALIIS houses Palestine's first and only graduate program in international studies offering an integrated, interdisciplinary MA. Its academic purview has now expanded to include two concentrations or minors in the field: forced migration and refugees, and diplomacy. It is also the venue for Birzeit's Palestinian archive project (BZUPAP). In the extracurricular domain, we offer training, research and publication opportunities for students and faculty, as well as regular international and local conferences, workshops and symposia. With its ever-expanding library and online resources, constantly updated, interactive website, posted student and faculty in-depth analyses and specialists' policy papers, the IALIIS is a valuable Palestinian resource for global reflection and advocacy.
The Institute seeks to achieve the following objectives:
- To professionally and academically prepare a distinguished staff specialized in international studies.
- To contribute to knowledge and development in Palestine, particularly in relation to a global environment with which the country is asymmetrically engaged.
- To provide services to local and international academics, researchers and professionals to help them conduct research and develop their abilities and skills.
- To enhance communication between local students, academics, and politicians and their regional and international counterparts.
- To provide an opportunity for academics and students to debate ideas and hold dialogues with policymakers.
Programs and Activities
The Institute's work includes a number of programs and activities, most significantly:
Master Program in International Studies: This program, the only specialized international studies curriculum in Palestine, has been offered since 1994. As of early 2011, more than 300 students have obtained their MA in international studies, and taken up positions in various related fields within the public, nongovernmental and private sectors as well as international organizations.
Forced Migration and Refugees Unit (FMRU): Established in 2007 as a resource center within the IALIIS, the FMRU now offers a concentration in Forced Migration and Refugee Studies within the international studies masters program and is a focus for networking, study and research in the field.
International academic conferences: The IALIIS holds yearly international academic conferences dealing with significant international issues involving Palestine and Palestinians. Participation encompasses a broad range of academics, journalists and other specialists, as well as political leaders and activists, coming from Palestine, the Arab world, the Middle East and the wider world. Selected conference proceedings are published in book form and online.
Local academic conferences: The IALIIS hosts a variety of local conferences dealing with such topics as Palestinian and Arab political development, institution building, democracy and refugee issues, seen in a comparative light. Selected papers from these events are published online, and made available to students and the general public.
Series of Lectures and Symposia: The IALIIS organizes regular lectures, workshops and symposia throughout the academic year, on local, regional and international issues. These are devoted to ongoing knowledge production, and to providing students with opportunities for meeting and engaging in exchanges with academics, civil servants, diplomats and political leaders.
Publications: We publish our best research in Arabic and English, as well as policy-oriented position papers. The IALIIS has thus far produced more than fifty books, which are now being made available online, where they are accessible through the Institute's website.
Birzeit University Working Paper Series: This online series was established in order to make specific work available to researchers and decision makers, thus furthering the interaction between them and to provide expert input into policy making locally and internationally.Series of Workshops: The IALIIS holds a series of workshops about viable and important issues; the series entitled "the Political Economy of Dependence and Independence in Palestine," which is directed to Palestinian decision makers, aiming to come up with decisions and strategies to improve the current situation and the situation in the future Palestinian state